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This article was first published 16 years ago  » News » New lease of life for sacred Bodhi tree

New lease of life for sacred Bodhi tree

By Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna
June 28, 2007 11:22 IST
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The Dehradun-based Forest Research Institute has been given the responsibility of maintaining the sacred bodhi tree at the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya.

Following the Bihar government's decision, a team of FRI will visit Bodh Gaya on Friday to make a preliminary health assessment of the tree and inquire into the alleged cutting of a branch.

The government also plans to install surveillance cameras at strategic points to keep vigil on the tree and the temple.

"High mast cool lights would also be installed," Home Secretary Afzal Amanullah said.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar inspected the tree during his visit to Bodh Gaya on Wednesday after Buddhist monks demanded a Central Bureau probe into the cutting of a branch.

Last week, a Buddhist monk, Arup Brahmachari, had filed a criminal complaint case against the top officials of the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee.

Arup Brahmachari filed the complaint in the court of the chief judicial magistrate in Gaya. He submitted evidence -- including eight photographs -- to support his claims.

In July 2005, it was widely reported that unidentified people cut off a branch of the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, where Buddha attained enlightenment 2550 years ago.

But the state government denied the claim. However, under pressure after worldwide protests, the state government got samples collected from the cut point in the tree and sent it to a Pune-based forest laboratory to ascertain the truth.

Arup Brahmachari told the complaint has been filed under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, and the Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988.

The complaint was supported by an affidavit filed by Deepak Malakar, a temple gardener, who used to look after the Bodhi tree, Arup Brahmachari said.

Malakar in his affidavit claimed that he cut off the branch of Bodhi tree on July 10, 2006, allegedly on the order of Bahadant Bodhipal, the temple chief priest and carried it to his residence.

Arup Brahmachari accused the top temple officials of trying to tamper Malakar's affidavit.

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Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna